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Published February 07, 2014, 02:36 PM

Farm bill signed into law

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the House/Senate farm bill conference committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee, today said that the farm bill signed into law this afternoon provides North Dakota farmers and ranchers with a long-term plan and good options to manage risk with enhanced crop insurance.

By: Michael Yoshida, WDAZ

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the House/Senate farm bill conference committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee, today said that the farm bill signed into law this afternoon provides North Dakota farmers and ranchers with a long-term plan and good options to manage risk with enhanced crop insurance.

“The farm bill that was signed into law today is important not only for our farmers and ranchers, but for every Americans who benefits from the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world. We worked hard to get a long-term bill that provides our farmers with good options for managing risk with strengthened crop insurance, strong support for our livestock producers, while at the same time saving $23 billion dollars,” said Hoeven. “Agriculture supports 16 million jobs across this country and our farmers and ranchers do a tremendous job providing food, fuel and fiber for our nation.”

Key Provisions for North Dakota in the Farm Bill

· Enhanced Crop Insurance: The farm bill includes a strong safety net for producers. Hoeven underscored that the safety net in the farm bill is focused on enhanced crop insurance. The legislation not only retains current individual crop insurance, but enhances crop insurance by helping farmers improve their yield history under the current program and by creating a new Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). The SCO enables producers to purchase a supplemental policy beyond their individual farm-based policy.

· Revenue Loss Protection: In addition, the bill features a new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program that covers assistance for multiple-year losses. The program works with crop insurance by covering between 76 and 86 percent of a producer’s historic five-year average revenues based on price and yield.

· Price Loss Coverage: Producers will have a one-time option to select a counter-cyclical commodity program or the revenue coverage option provided by ARC.

· Renewing the Sugar Program: Hoeven has worked hard in a bipartisan way to extend the sugar program in the farm bill, ensuring that American producers have a level playing field in the world sugar market.

· Renewing the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP): The bill would renew the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) for the life of the farm bill as well as provide coverage for the current fiscal year, since the programs expired in 2011. It covers 75% of the value of the animals lost with a high aggregate limit of $125,000.

· Conservation: Farmers and ranchers have a vested interest in good stewardship of their land, and both the Senate and House versions of the bill include good conservation tools. Though the bill ties conservation compliance to crop insurance, it does include the Hoeven proposal to make sure this new requirement is not retroactive, as well as report language encouraging the Secretary of Agriculture to use an acre-for-acre ration for wetland mitigation and funding to help farmers with mitigation.

· State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Program (SAFE): The conference agreement includes report language encouraging the Secretary of Agriculture to allocate a greater number of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres to programs like SAFE, which allow producers to create habitat that is beneficial for wildlife. This is a good program for both farmers and sportsmen because it will allow farmers to optimize CRP acreage to encourage wildlife populations. States like North Dakota have lost CRP acreage, which has a reduced habitat for a number of sports species like deer and pheasants. Combined with North Dakota’s PLOTS and Coverlocks programs, which make private lands available to hunters, the SAFE program can create more habitats to increase wildlife populations and hunting opportunities.

· Ag Research: The farm bill includes strong support for agricultural research, like the work done at North Dakota State University and the North Dakota Extension Service, to enhance crop genetics and production.

· Rural Water Management: The farm bill includes rural water management and flood protection. It includes $500 million for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that can be used in part to support flood protection in the Red River Valley, as well as other conservation, rural development and energy programs.

· Corn Test Weight: Senator Hoeven corn test weight amendment was included. This provision enables growers to get actual market price for their crop by extending the 60-day window for settling claims to 120 days.

· Energy Funding: The bill maintains the Senate-passed energy funding levels of $880 million to fund core programs that are cost-effective job creators, accounting for more than tens of thousands of jobs saved or created over the last decade. The set conditions that allow farmers and innovative businesses to grow the rural economy, while making America more energy independent.

· Blender Pumps: The legislation provides consumers with more choices at the pump by retaining USDA’s ability to fund blender pumps to help address the blend wall issue.

· Pulse Health Initiative: The bill includes the Pulse Health Initiative which would support expanded research into the health and nutritional benefits of pulse crops, including their ability to reduce obesity and chronic disease.

· Deer Initiatives: Includes funding to help with deer research and extension grants to help treat parasites and diseases including chronic wasting disease.

· Beginning Farmer: The conference agreement continues support to assist beginning farmers and ranchers.

· Alfalfa and Forage Research Program (AFRP): The bill reauthorizes AFRP to provide research to improve alfalfa/forage yields, persistence, harvesting and storage of alfalfa, estimates of forage, quality and breeding.

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